Protecting Our Coastlines

Global warming is causing the world’s oceans to get warmer, causing ice caps to melt. This, in turn, will lead to rising sea levels.

So, what has rising sea levels got to do with Singapore?

Singapore Has to Worry About Coastal Flooding?

As a low-lying island city state, Singapore is particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels. Scientists at the Centre for Climate Research Singapore project that Singapore could experience mean sea level rise of up to 1 metre in Singapore by 2100.

And unlike other countries, we unfortunately lack abundant high ground where we can retreat to — 30% of Singapore is less than five metres above mean sea level.

So where does this leave us?

To ensure timely action to protect our coastlines, PUB was appointed the national Coastal Protection Agency in April 2020, and was tasked to coordinate whole-of-government efforts to develop long-term strategies and plans.

As sea level rise is an existential threat to Singapore, coastal protection infrastructure is critical and essential to protect Singapore. An initial $5 billion has been allocated to the Coastal and Flood Protection Fund to fund coastal protection measures and drainage infrastructure to enhance Singapore’s flood resilience.

Find out what the threat of rising sea levels means for Singapore and how it will impact us!

How Exactly are we Combatting the Threat of Rising Sea Levels?

At present, about 70% of Singapore’s coastline has been protected against coastal erosion by measures such as concrete seawalls and rock revetments.

Example of rock revetment at Labrador Nature Reserve (Image credit: PUB)

Despite Singapore’s small size, our coastline is highly varied and there is no one-size-fits-all strategy when it comes to developing coastal protection measures. Such measures also need to complement the land use plans of the area, dovetail with upcoming developments, designed to be multi-functional and enhance the living environment where possible.

Challenges aside, there is much opportunity to think creatively and reimagine ways to shape Singapore’s coastal spaces so that everyone can continue to enjoy our beautiful and protected coastlines in the future. A good example of this multi-functional approach is the Marina Barrage, which provides a source of water supply, flood control and a venue for recreation!

Marina Barrage protects Singapore as a flood control facility

Are Manmade Solutions the Only Way?

We are also exploring how nature-based solutions, such as mangroves, coral reefs, rocky shores and seagrass meadows, can complement man-made solutions in protecting our coastlines. Such hybrid solutions offer multiple benefits. Besides helping to dissipate wave energy at the coastlines and prevent coastal erosion brought about by storm surges and rising sea levels, they can also help to enhance biodiversity and create a better living environment.

Seagrass bed (Image credit: NParks)
Mangroves, with their complex roots, are able to dissipate waves and trap sediments, preventing the erosion of the coastline. (Image credit: NParks)

More research is being done to study the effectiveness of these natural elements as solutions for coastal protection, as well as their long-term viability at specific coastal areas.

A 400 m-long low rock revetment was implemented at Kranji Coastal Nature Park to slow down wave energy, promoting sediment accretion and natural recruitment of mangrove saplings. It is designed to be tucked behind the original mangroves and in front of a heavily impacted coastline. This nature-based solution is part of the National Parks Board’s coastal protection efforts. (Image credit: NParks)

What Is Our Long-Term Approach?

Coastal protection is a long and complex journey and our adaptation efforts need to start now. As part of the Singapore Green Plan 2030, we aim to complete formulation of coastal adaptation protection plans for the City-East Coast, North-West Coast (Lim Chu Kang, and Sungei Kadut and Western Catchment Reservoirs) and Jurong Island by 2030. We will continue to consult widely along the way — with the community, experts, businesses, as well as other government agencies — to share preliminary ideas from the studies and co-create solutions with the community. We invite everyone to join us on this endeavour, so that we can, together, protect Singapore’s coastlines against the rising seas while remaking them into liveable, adaptable, and sustainable spaces.

NParks will also continue to research and explore nature-based solutions such as the restoration of mangroves along Singapore’s coasts in areas such as Kranji Coastal Nature Park and Pulau Ubin. This will help to strengthen the resilience of Singapore’s coasts against the effects of climate change, and is part of our City in Nature vision, which is another one of the key pillars of the Singapore Green Plan 2030.

Interested to find out more about coastal protection in Singapore? Check out these links for more info:




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Singapore Green Plan

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